Zig Zag Power Trio, Aaron Comess, Sofia Trio + Others: Five for the Road

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Zig Zag Power Trio, Aaron Comess and Sofia Trio are part of the latest edition of Five for the Road, an occasional look at music that’s been in my car lately …

SOFIA TRIO – SOFIA (2017): “Deriu’s Illusion,” the opening song, captures with the sounds of guitarist Mario Meloni’s melodic touches, and the African-meets-European touches of drummer Luca Deriu. Double bassist Fabrizio Fogagnolo quickens the pace and the listener is quickly taken down a fascinating rabbit hole of great jazz. The trio, whose name is derived from the Greek term Sophia – meaning wisdom – infuse a healthy dose of contemporary jazz elements, European flair and African passion. The result is inspired playing, fascinating original compositions like “Pino Pino” and the title song. There’s an enthusiasm which is embedded in the entire album. Sofia Trio’s Sofia is one of my Top 3 jazz albums so far this year.

TAUTOLOGIC – RE:PSYCHLE (2018): The Chicago-based Tautologic’s re:Psychle is a weird little musical trip. The album, inspired by theme collected from band leader Ethan Sellers of Chicagoans, is a prog-based multi-layered collection of songs played by a crack core group of six core musicians. Sellers – who produced, engineered, and arranged re:Psychle – added in strings and expanded the horn section to flesh out his vision. Songs like “Loud Shoes” remind me of Frank Zappa and Steely Dan with touches of They Might Be Giants. Add in prog guitar and jazz saxophonist Chris Greene, and you get a fun ride.

AARON COMESS – SCULPTURES (2018): Didn’t Spin Doctors drummer Aaron Comess just release a fantastic jazz album? Actually band leader Comess doesn’t sit still for too long. His latest release Sculptures, due on March 16, 2018, follows the trio album Live 2016. Sculpture features Comess’ forceful, yet empathic drumming and his melodic writing, while also adding Leon Gruennaum on a MIDI-controlled synthesizer called a samchillian. The results are fresh, ethereal and inviting. Throw in touches of electric guitar, bass and Fender Rhodes, and it’s clear Comess has another winning release. “Wacky” and “The Pink Room” after just a glimpse of the fantastic contents on Sculptures.

STERLING BALL, JOHN FERRARO AND JIM COX – THE MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY (2018): Ball, Ferraro and Cox are legends. Sterling Ball, the son of the great Ernie Ball and a legend in his own right, called drumming virtuoso and friend John Ferraro and said ‘Let’s make an album.’ The two brought in keyboard great Jim Cox, who also contributed his production skills, and The Mutual Admiration Society was born. While the trio provide the instrumental core, with Ball switching off on bass and guitar, some other very familiar friends provide s little help: “Checkin’ Up On My Baby” is pure joy, with Ball’s guitar and Cox’s Nord organ providing a sweet retro vibe. Steve Morse, Steve Lukather, Steve Vai all make weighty appearances. Albert Lee’s appearance on “Hey Good Lookin'” meets the expectations of the icon that he is. All and all, these covers are played with a joyous enthusiasm not commonly put on record these days.

ZIG ZAG POWER TRIO – WOODSTOCK SESSIONS (2017): Shade by Living Colour made it to the top of my Best of 2017 list. Given the tour and promotion behind Shade, it’s hard to believe that Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid and drummer Will Calhoun had time to participate in the Zig Zag Power Trio’s instrumental album with bassist Melvin Gibbs from the Rollins Band. What’s even more amazing is that this live-in-studio recording is so stellar. Then again, knowing these players, it shouldn’t be: Each is a force to be reckoned with on their main gigs and side projects. The album, recorded on June 17, 2017, kicks off with a deep tribute called “David Bowie,” and builds sonically from there. The instrumental-only effort allows Reid to stretch even more sonically. “Prof Bebey” would fit happily on a Steve Howe or Robert Fripp solo album. Throughout, Melvin Gibbs provides a menacing presence and an occasional lyrical solo, while Will Calhoun proves once again that his range as a drummer is as amazingly wide as his skills are in shape. The Zig Zag Power Trio is one unexpected treat I found on PledgeMusic.

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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